First things first: I have written up guides on gaining more interaction on Instagram, and probably more that I’ve long forgotten about, but the more I think about it, the more I come to realise that there’s no secret recipe to becoming an Instagram master and gaining hundreds of followers every week. The more I think about it and the more that it comes to my mind – I want to call time on all of the advice floating around.
I for one definitely think that social media and gaining a following isn’t something you should aim for. Being a blogger this seems like a really backwards way to go about things, and I’m not going to deny that there’s been times where gaining more followers, readers and interaction was a main priority, but I’ve definitely reached a point in my blogging life where I just don’t care anymore about gaining new followers every day, and instead I’m glad for the ones that I do have. The people that like my photographs and comment, the people who reply to my tweets and comment on my blog posts – those are the most valuable.
New followers and readers are nice, and it’s a fantastic feeling when you reach a milestone I won’t deny it, but the thing is: Obsessing over the numbers takes away the most important and crucial part to being a blogger and even an Instagrammer: It makes it less fun. Content becomes trickier to come up with and you start to become obsessed with analytics and numbers.
I began blogging for an outlet, I wanted somewhere to write out my feelings, thoughts, opinions and even the silly things like hauls and whatnot. When I began to pick up a following and readership, I began to feel like I had to gain more. When brands reached out to me asking for a media kit so they could check my numbers, it started to feel like that in order for me to get sponsorships and collaborations, in order for me to be valued: my numbers needed to be higher.
Then it hit me: I don’t care about the numbers. I care about the content. The main thing on my mind for the majority of the time is new content, what can I write about? How can I write it? What would be a fun way to captivate the reader and should I try this new thing? I care about the numbers when I’m made to feel like I should. I talk about “wanting” more followers and readers when I’m made to feel like that’s what I need.
But this year, or rather, over the past few months, I’ve noticed a lot of peoples speaking up and feeling the same way. A lot of influencers have begun to talk about how the numbers aren’t the priority, that the advice you’re given doesn’t work because what works for one person may not work for another, because we’re not all the same and we don’t all enjoy social media in the same way.
When I began thinking about this post, I began thinking about who I follow on Instagram, Twitter and various other social media platforms I like to use, and I began to realise that for the most part, the people who interested me the most and the people who I engaged with the most, tended to be people who weren’t even within the blogosphere. I wanted them to be, there’s people I feel like messaging: “You should have a blog, you’d do so well!” – but the reason these people interest me the most, the reason that I engage with them the way that I do is because: It’s genuine. There’s clearly no obsession with the numbers, they’ll go a while without posting or they’ll post the same things over and over but as a follower, really, I don’t care. I like their style and I followed them for a reason, whereas I go through my own Instagram back to a few months ago when the numbers were my obsession and I can clearly see the difference between posting for obligation and posting for joy.
Since when did social media stop being fun? When did it become such a chore? Well, honestly, I made it a chore for myself through my own obsessions and my own neediness. I think that after becoming more conscious of this I decided to just post what I wanted to post. If I want to post photographs from months ago, then I will. If people don’t like it or if people want to make fun of me then that’s on them, not on me. If I want to post the same mirror-style selfie every day then why not?
I think that all of this advice floating around is a load of nonsense and it’s honestly a tactical way in itself for the writer or the person speaking to gain more numbers themselves, I don’t really believe that using x amount of hashtags works, I love hashtags don’t get me wrong, and I use them in almost all of my photographs for the sake of furthering my reach, but also because it’s fun to go through those hashtags too when I have a minute, to discover new people and see the lives that others have. But why does limiting myself to 5 hashtags benefit me? Why does using these popular hashtags benefit me, if they’re so popular then doesn’t that mean people are using them for the sake of more likes and comments instead of a way to find new people to engage with?
Obviously I don’t think all of the advice is crap. There’s some good advice out there if you’re genuinely looking for ways to organically improve your engagement and reach, but I also think that this type of advice is always the type of advice that we all need to focus on: Just enjoy Instagram and Twitter, use it however you want to and the numbers will come and you’ll be having fun along with it.
I’ve tried out tricks and tips in the past and honestly none of them have ever really worked for me, I was lucky enough to end up on the explore feed one time and that really boosted my engagement for a few days and then it dwindled back to how it normally is, but that to me was a good thing. I liked being able to put my finger on consistency, I liked being able to see that followers were liking my content.
The explore feed is actually a marvellous thing and I do tend to find everybody I follow through it, and I think that Instagram does a good job in recognising your habits and finding people you’re bound to like and want to follow, I once saw someone giving advice on how to get on the explore feed but it all seemed so circumstantial to me, and for the most part I find that people who I follow either followed the person’s account I came across or liked the same photo, I think that things like getting on the explore feed and whatnot are just luck based and the algorithm just picks you out (I could be wrong on that), so I just don’t understand the constant need and the constant obsession with furthering your numbers when social media is just about having fun and getting creative.
So I’m calling time on the advice and tips and tricks, and I’m bringing back just having some fun posting to the gram.